Thursday, May 13, 2010

How To Make It In America: Motivation For The Recent Grad

Graduation season is upon us and I want to be the first to welcome recent grads in to this overwhelming entity that we call the "Real World."

Raise your arm right arm straight up in the air.  Now drop your lower arm behind your left shoulder. Pat... You deserve that pat on the back. Of the nearly 40 Million African-Americans in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, only (approximately) 3 Million hold the distinction of a Bachelors Degree from an accredited college or university. You are now one of us. One of the so-called "Educated & Elite." Well, not so fast newcomer. This league comes with it's own set of rules and regulations and I want you to be prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.

Most recent grads face the experience of graduating and still not having their career path defined, primarily in the form of an initial place of employment. Don't fret. I was in the same boat, as were many grads. I knew exactly what I wanted to do (marketing), but didn't see the opportunity that would allow for full utilization of my skills and ambition. In reality, the position that fully utilizes your skills and ambition requires at least five years of experience and possibly an additional degree. Don't be afraid to go after what you want. If you know that you want to work for a publishing house in creative marketing, go for it. Just know that you will be starting at the bottom. And nothing is wrong with that. My best advice for recent grads is to follow your heart and pursue the field that you are truly passionate about. This passion will sustain you on the days that you hate your position. Oh yeah... you will hate your job some days. That is a given. But it is on those days when you hate what you are doing the most, you are afforded the opportunity to honestly know if this line of work is what you want to do or simply what you thought you wanted to do.

If you are one of the fortunate graduates that is walking in to commencement with a position already waiting on the sideline, your first order of business is thanking your stars, the lucky ones. Your chief concern will be to mimic the purpose of a sponge and that is to absorb. Absorb as much information and viable experience that you can from your new position. Lend yourself to any and all projects, especially the ones your established co-workers turn their noses up at. Stay late and come early. Understand that this position, no matter how lucrative or diminutive, is a stepping stone on your career path. Most importantly never stop your job search. You should always be in search of your next great challenge and that process beings on Day 1 of your corporate experience.

Most critical in your new life as a college graduate is the inclusion of an ever-present positive attitude. Whether you already have your job lined up or if you don't even know how to utilize your degree. Positivity will lend itself to conscious decision making. Go out in to this "Real World" with a sense of urgency. Urgency to create, develop, grow, struggle, succeed and at times, fail. Travel through this journey knowing that we are all right there with you, carving our own path and striving for our own space. Congratulations.


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